Shortly after Pakistan’s hottest young human rights export, Malala Yousafzai, warned President Obama that current US drone attacks in support of the global War on Terror are killing civilians and fueling terrorism, Amnesty International reviewed a subset of US drone attacks in Pakistan and released a report [PDF] with a takeaway that the organization is “Seriously concerned that these [drone] strikes have resulted in unlawful killings that may constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes.”
Team Obama’s response to both developments was predictable.
The administration all but ignored Malala’s admonishment while White House Press Secretary Jay Carney talked about the extraordinary care taken by the US to target terrorists and prevent civilian casualties.
I’m not sure how many Americans understand the nature of these drone strikes, but reading the Amnesty International report’s interviews with local civilians who provided chilling descriptions of US drone hits would be a good starting point.
Read the case of the 68-year old woman blown to bits by drone missiles while she was picking okra. Her grandsons were then hit by a second round of missile attacks as they tried to recover her scattered remains. The possible motive behind the attack: a Taliban fighter used a satellite phone in the general vicinity but drove away long before the attack.
Read about a group of laborers in Zowi Sidgi who were discussing their work day in a tent before being dismembered by hellfire missiles. A second set of missiles attacked villagers who searched the wreckage for survivors or remains. In total, 18 people with no verifiable connections to the Taliban or Al-Qaeda were killed.
You will find additional cases in the report.
Imagine that Russia felt the US was either incapable or unwilling to round-up suspected Chechen terrorists in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York, and decided to send unmanned planes or human agents to hunt and kill the neighborhood’s residents.
Okay, let’s get a bit less extreme. Imagine that the Mexican government sent agents across the US border to shoot or drone suspected drug gang members in Texas.
America’s reaction would not be surprising.
I know many people were upset with Dr. Cornell West’s declaration that President Obama is a global George Zimmerman – and like others, I initially thought that Dr. West was bordering on hyperbole – but think about what’s going on in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen at the moment.
Like Zimmerman, drones will profile and stalk a villager suspected of being up to no good.
Like Martin, there’s an absence of facts to support the stalking or killing of these people.
In the same way George Zimmerman’s handgun limited Trayvon Martin’s chance of survival, drones can carry out their version of justice from distances far away from the reach of a fist.
I’m all for protecting America from the next terrorist attack, which is why I think the Obama administration should think about the seeds of resentment it plants in other lands through its drone show…
song currently stuck in my head: “too hot for love” – thp orchestra